Breaking Up with Myself

Scene: A business trip to Bangkok by day, and a tourist/traveller by night.

But the point of the story is not the business trip (who wants to read about boring business stuff anyways), nor is it Bangkok (though it is a great city).

The point is this: it was a wake-up call. A depressing one, but a necessary one.

You see, I met a group of travellers/backpackers during my night out in Bangkok.. and with one of them, I further explored Bangkok’s street life. For those two nights out in Bangkok, I was happy, relaxed, open and free. The night was forever young and anything could happen. There was nothing in my mind apart from the here and now, that very second at that very place.

It wasn’t until this morning, as I was checking out from the hotel, that I started to feel utterly depressed. I absolutely did not want to leave Bangkok, and I was dreading coming back to Jakarta. The thought to just stay in Bangkok, and basically abandoning everything here in Indonesia, flitted across my mind.. but the pragmatic and realist side of me quickly took over, and I got into the cab. “Airport, please.” Let it be said that I have never felt so down in a long time.. and the sheer suddenness of that sadness is probably what shocked me the most. Usually, you know when you will be sad… or more importantly, you know why you’re sad. Maybe a friend is leaving, or maybe you are leaving, or maybe it’s a long-overdue break-up… whatever.

But what I felt then, that was just unexplainable. Bangkok is not that much different from Jakarta, and it is so close and accessible that I can easily come back anytime. I have my family, friends, a home and a good job waiting in Jakarta, while in Bangkok I have, well, nothing. Plus, I was only there for two days on business, so the going out and shopping was just a bonus. So then why the inexplicable dread of leaving??

…and then it hit me. It wasn’t that I did not want to leave; it was more that I did not want to return. To Jakarta. To Indonesia. To “home.”

Those two nights in Bangkok, I met someone. And going home will mean leaving that someone and not knowing when else we’re going to meet again. Someone who actually I never realized I had lost, until we met again in the streets of Bangkok.

I met me.

See, this me existed for 25 years. The one that lived with not knowing where she will be in one year’s time.. who spent every new year’s eve in a different country, with different people… who ran in the continuous circle of house-hunting, packing/unpacking, uni applications, job applications, visa applications.. who was forever figuring out/questioning who she is and who she wants to be.. who whole-heartedly believe that life, the beautiful world and its amazing people, are all just hers for the taking, and that everything will be just fine. The eternal happy-go-lucky optimist.

Without realizing it, I had broken up with her during my one-year spell in Jakarta. Or, maybe more accurately, she’s the one who left.. because she didn’t get along with who I have become:Β  stuck in the traffic in the morning and evening, spending my days in the office and my weekends in the mall. I live in my bubble that is my lil car, so I can pretend I don’t see the lil kid knocking on my window while I admire my latest shopping success and check my email on my BlackBerry.Β  With the feeling of permanence, and no longer searching for houses every year, I find myself accummulating more and more stuff — clothes, jewelleries, and am even comtemplating buying a house! I now know that all those stuff were just to fill the void she left.

The worst part, I didn’t realize she had left. I didn’t know we had separated, broken-up. I thought she was still with me, that it was all as it has always been. The two of us, together, diving head-first into the big blue world — to find out that the surface reveals nothing, and the only way to find out is to dive in. But, no. Whereas before I was looking outward — at the world, at the people in it, and how best I can join them all… I am now looking inward — at my stuff, how to get more stuff, and where to keep my stuff.

So, yes, meeting her again was a brutal brutal wake-up call. And I am still recovering from the shock of it all. In the meantime, I left her in Bangkok. I imagine we will stay separated for a while, but I just hope she knows that I have and will miss her terribly.. and that I will do my best to get her back. Even if it means throwing out my stuff, one painful (yet liberating) box at a time. (garage sale, anyone?)

Here’s to unlearning all I have learnt in Jakarta, and re-learning all I have learnt pre-Jakarta.


12 responses to this post.

  1. I need to go away to find myself too. It’s a strange thing. For some reason I need to travel thousands of miles in order to change what’s going on in my head…


    • Posted by asti on August 24, 2010 at 1:13 am

      Good to know I’m not the only one who feels this way!

      So is that why you’re travelling to Indonesia this November (I peeked at your blog)? To change what’s going on in your head?


  2. Posted by hanum on August 23, 2010 at 10:15 am

    aaaah….. long lost lover. hope you meet with her again soon.
    I constantly long to meet with my better half… and sometimes get out of this city just for the sake of it. I believe I will book a flight today for a meet up early next year πŸ™‚


  3. Ah, enjoy reading it but sad at the same time. Keep on traveling, ti… so you won’t be losing her for too long. Just thinking about me in your situation now… -_- a horror… hhhhh… *me still optimist about living in jkt though…*


    • Posted by asti on August 30, 2010 at 12:25 am

      Yeah, now that I’ve realized what I’ve lost, I’m starting a “travel calendar”… Just to make sure I keep my mission of “one country+one province per year”!btw, hw does iran sound?? Bn there yet?

      Wait, does this mean you’re considering living in Jakarta sometime in the future?? Yay, travel buddy! πŸ˜€


      • Wahhhh I always want to go to Iran!!! πŸ™‚ I’ll include that list for my middle east trip. Let’s do it together! πŸ™‚ Thinking to include Egypt, Jordan, Palestine, and Syria as well.

        Yap, considering to live in Jakarta in few years time πŸ˜€ Yuhuuuu… good I have additional travel buddy yay! πŸ™‚

      • Posted by asti on August 30, 2010 at 10:35 am

        Wow wow calm down.. Some of us have limited leave days u know, not like the 3-month holiday u students have :p but yeah, ME definitely is a must-visit… specially with a lil indo-arab like you as a semi-local to guide us!

        Ok, to manage my expectations, does a “few years’ time” mean in 2-3 yrs or more like in 5+ yrs? πŸ˜€

      • hahahah… I think 1 month is enough to cover those countries. I’m thinking to go there next year, but it really depends on my money. I’m a jobless student. πŸ˜€

        2-3 years πŸ™‚

    • *menyimak*


  4. Yeh going to indo is a bit like that for me. It’s tough work for me, a puny bule, but I always feel better after it. It’s a total diversion, like a trip to Mars πŸ™‚


  5. […] this city, in this job, doing the usual rat race and weekly mall runs. I don’t want another break-up, as I feel she is slowly coming back, but I do feel like I’m facing a constant uphill battle […]


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